Long, long ago and far away…another place, a different time

Jennie and I recently returned from a four-day visit with friends in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We stayed in the Las Campañas area, home of one of the three couples that made up our traveling group. Located high on a mesa populated by piñon and surrounded by the Jémez and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges, sunsets were otherworldly, intensified by thunderheads and occasional lightning strikes. Daytime temperatures fluctuated from the mid-seventies to the high eighties—perfect weather for the seven-thousand-foot elevation.
Our three full days were highlighted by:

* A bird-watching expedition complete with a guide and spotting scope. Being a bird person is not my forte, but I found the experience to be quite delightful. And we saw a lot of cool birds!

* A round of golf at the country club. I barely broke a hundred, but the course was gorgeous, and I had some good shots, which always keeps you coming back for more.

* A trip to the Los Alamos Bradbury Science Museum (Manhattan Project-Atomic Bomb) and then on to Bandelier National Monument, where we hiked and visited some amazing Pueblo cliff dwellings and kiva structures. We also saw many petroglyphs carved in the vertical stone facings.
Of course, the trip was enhanced by the great food we ate at six different restaurants ranging from Southwest fare, Italian fusion, and your typical upscale seafood and steak bistro. The margaritas were strong, and the wine was exquisite! I just hope the loud laughter emanating from our tables didn’t offend too many people! Oh well—too bad! We were having so much fun!

The dream I dreamed was not denied me.

Long, long ago and far away...another place, a different time

I found the archeological site at Bandelier the most interesting of all our experiences. The ruins, which date back to between 1100 and 1600 AD, were fascinating. There is evidence of human activity in Bandelier from eleven thousand years ago.

The people who lived there more recently were descendants of those ancient first inhabitants. We saw the remains of a permanent village, constructed of earthen blocks, some reaching three stories high. There were communal underground spaces and additional living areas carved out of the soft volcanic stone of the canyon walls. A year-round creek ran through the narrow valley, and there was enough flat acreage to grow beans, corn, and squash.

Long, long ago and far away...another place, a different time

When I see sites like this, which are exceptionally grand and permanent, I can’t help but compare them with the Central California Coast Ohlone, who lived in small groups and moved often within their own designated territories. This alternative behavior has a lot to do with heavier rainfall and the widespread floral/fauna abundance that increased water supplies provide. In dry climates, groups must stay close to year-round water, resources can be many miles apart.

A thousand years ago, the climate of Central California had ample amounts of water, so permanent villages were not needed. Also, the proximity to the sea provided multiple food sources, all rich in protein. When water is scarce societies must organize into structured chains of command to allocate their resources most efficiently and fairly. Agriculture becomes critical to survival since hunting and gathering is limited. The more people that congregate, the bigger and more complex living arrangements become.

While it might seem that the Pueblo people were more “civilized,” I don’t believe that is the case. When you dive deeper into Ohlone culture and society it is clear that they were just as intelligent as the large communities of the Southwest, as well as equal in acumen to the Spanish that came to colonize the region.

Long, long ago and far away...another place, a different time

Just one look and then I knew

Long, long ago and far away...another place, a different time

The Ohlone used their minds in different ways, emphasizing priorities that didn’t necessarily coincide with other people’s consciousness and/or hierarchy of importance. Essentially, living alongside nature—not trying to control it—was paramount to the Coastal Indigenous people—the driving force that gave meaning to their lives. For example, singing and dancing were more significant than say the construction of a house or the building of a dam. It makes for an interesting proposition as to what culture one would prefer to live in.

…all I longed for
Long ago was you.

Photos by Buzz and Jennie Anderson. Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved.
Lyrics from “Long Ago and Far Away” by Ira Gershwin and Jerome Kern. Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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One Comment
  1. Anne Tomforde

    So glad you were able to enjoy Santa Fe! It is only two hours from our Colorado ranch so I have taken the opportunity to visit it many times. As you’ve discovered it is a city rich in history and art. And we mustn’t forget the great restaurants! Excellent photos by the way! You and Jenny are a handsome couple.

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